By: Cheri Fuller
"The more you pray, the less you’ll panic.
The more you worship, the less you worry.
You’ll feel more patient and less pressured."
Esther helped her elderly patient settle into a bed in the outpatient oncology center where she served as a nurse. She chatted comfortably while gathering supplies and preparing the medication for the patient’s chemotherapy.
All her patients were favorites, but this woman held a special place in her heart. Even after twenty years of nursing, Esther still prayed each morning for God to guide her in treating her patients, for protection for their veins and from dangerous side effects. This morning had been no different, and she trusted Him.
“Let me check your IV site,” she said, making sure the needle was securely in the vein. Then she carefully read each page of the chart to be sure she had all the information needed. Since the platelet counts were low, Esther called the oncology doctor to verify treatment. He couldn’t be reached, but the nurse in charge assured her the doctor had ordered chemo and two units of blood. Esther turned back to her patient and gently took her hand. Then the medications flowed into her vein.
As the last of the chemo was given, the phone rang. “Whatever you do, don’t give the patient chemotherapy today. I guess you saw that her counts are too low,” said the doctor.
“I already gave her treatment,” Esther replied.
“What? How could you be so incompetent?” he screamed. “You’ll probably be responsible for this patient’s death!”
Suddenly she was struck with a horror that she may have harmed her patient.
When her husband Tim picked Esther up a few hours later to drive to a retreat in a nearby state, her stomach knotted tightly. The doctor’s tirade still rang in her ears as she thought, I’ll probably go to jail if this patient dies. This is the nightmare that every nurse hopes and prays will never happen to her—that her mistake could kill a patient.
All the way down to the conference center, Esther was consumed with worry: God, how can I pray over my patients and trust You and then have this happen? If she dies, even if I don’t go to jail, I’ll lose my nursing license, she thought. Can I really trust God at all? Her stomach tightened until she felt as if she’d be sick. She’s so precious. . .not just a patient, but a friend. I couldn’t live with myself if I caused anything to happen to her. The fear of her patient’s dying was overwhelming. Even with her husband’s encouraging words, she was overwhelmed by the fear that her patient could die.
By the time they arrived at the conference, Esther was a wreck. Even though it was warm outside, her body felt cold. When she ran into Bill, the speaker and a dear friend, the story poured out: “I may be responsible for a patient’s death,” Esther cried. “I can’t think of anything else. How can I even concentrate on the seminars when my patient may be in danger?”
“I think you’re at just the right place. Come to the first session I’m doing on worry and fear,” Bill said. After putting their suitcases in the room, Esther reluctantly went to the meeting, doubtful anything he said could quell her fears.
In the first session, Bill explained that he’d always struggled with fear and worry until he discovered the “four Ps” in Philippians 4:6–8: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely. . .if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things” (NASB).
I know these verses by heart, Esther thought. I don’t see how hearing them again can help me. What am I doing here? I may as well go home and face the consequences. “You see,” Bill explained, “whenever God commands us to do something—in this case, not to worry or be afraid about anything—He always follows with how to do it.
So here’s what these verses show us to do:
“The first P is to pray about what worries you. Give your worry or burden consciously and specifically to God. Paul’s saying in essence, ‘Don’t have anything to do with anxiety. Stop fearing and start praying!’
“The second P is to praise and thank Him for what He will do in the situation. Thank God for the person or situation causing you worry because even this very problem is one more reason to trust Him.
“The third P is to receive God’s peace. If you’ve prayed about the problem and given it to God, then He will move in on your mind and heart with peace through Christ Jesus. It’s a promise.”
As Esther took notes, what the speaker was saying began to make sense. Her thoughts were just as oppressive as when they arrived, but she listened intently as he sketched on the board the remaining P.
“The fourth P is what to do next. Focus your mind on God. Focus on all the positive, wonderful things about His character instead of being preoccupied with negative thoughts, how you’re going to get out of this mess, or the ‘what-ifs.’ Center your mind firmly on God’s goodness.”
© 2015 by Back to the Bible.
“From Replacing Worry for Wonder, published by Barbour Publishing, Inc. Used by permission.”